Al-Hilal will start as firm favorites when they make the trip to Abha in the Saudi Pro League. The hosts and Sepahan SC of the Iranian Pro League played to a 1-1 tie in a preseason friendly. The visitors lost 2-1 in the Arab Club Champions Cup championship game.
Preview (Abha vs Al-Hilal)
It’s fair to say that Abha had a disappointing season the last time around. They finished in 12th place, three spots worse than where they ended the previous campaign. They fired their manager last season after a dismal showing. However, he had little success, as they lost five of their first seven games under his leadership. In their 30 games, they only achieved nine victories, eight draws, and 13 losses.
Although their overall season record was unimpressive, seven of their nine victories from the previous campaign—which was the sixth-best total of any team in the league—came on their home field. The team of Jorge Jesus earned 59 points from their 30 games, eight fewer than their previous total. They had 17 wins, 8 ties, and 5 losses while scoring 54 goals and giving up 29 goals. For the duration of the season, Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad, and Al-Nassr were in a close race for the championship. However, a stretch of three games without a victory in April caused them to fall behind and they were unable to catch up.
Since then, they have competed in the Arab Club Champions Cup. After losing their initial match against Al-Sadd, they recovered with three victories over Wydad Casablanca, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Shabab before falling to Al-Nassr and a Cristiano Ronaldo extra-time winner. Despite that setback, they have made some significant additions during the summer. They are hoping will help them regain the league’s top spot. They will aim to earn a strong victory here to set the tone for the remainder of the season.
While Francois Kamano from Lokomotiv Moscow will add some pace down the left wing, Michniewicz’s team did make some less notable summer additions than his rivals. Fabian Noguera from Argentine club Nacional, Mohammed Naji from Al-Batin, and left-back Mohammed Al-Oufi from Al-Ittihad have all been hired as defenders, and they are all expected to make their league debuts in this match.
Jesus has a lot of options at the club given the influx of new players. Malcom will likely start up front. Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are expected to start in midfield for their new manager. Kalidou Koulibaly, a former member of Chelsa and Napoli, is also anticipated to make his league debut for the guests, while Abdulrahman Al Obaid, who is returning from a loan stint at Al-Ettifaq, could join him. The hosts are coming off a bad season, and their exhibition game against Sepahan in preseason did little to boost their confidence going into this game. Several well-known players will be arriving over the summer to entertain the guests.
Abha 0 – 2 Al-Hilal
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